management changes at LinkedIn implied that a shake-up was needed to make LinkedIn more like Facebook. As somebody who has used LinkedIn extensively and spoken to many people who have also found it very useful, this is a plea to listen to users and not the Valley cognoscenti. Sure, when Facebook was "valued" at $15 billion, a bit of envy was understandable. But now that we're in the real world...Commentary on this week's
We Don't Want to Spend More Time on LinkedIn
We want to spend as little time as possible so that we can get the job done, get off our computers, and have a life. LinkedIn is the most efficient place to hunt for customers and employees. It is the first real change in productivity for those who work on the front lines of business. We have written about how useful it is here and here, and we included LinkedIn in our Top 10 Enterprise Products for 2008.
So, repeat after me: LinkedIn is not a destination site. We thought the Valley intelligentsia long ago proclaimed the end of destination sites. The desire to "get people to spend more time on LinkedIn" is linked to a failed business model around advertising.
LinkedIn should be a "contact graph," accessible via the API tools that you need to get the job done.
Why Emulate Facebook?
When Facebook was nominally valued at $15 billion, envy was understandable. Now, word is that Facebook is worth more like $1 billion. And to prove I am not a recent jumper on the Facebook downward-rolling bandwagon, here is my bear case on Facebook from July 2007.
LinkedIn won't ever beat Facebook on page views. So why try? Beat it by being more useful. And then business people will pay.
SaaS businesses have been the quiet success story of 2008 and will romp home to glory in 2009. It is the perfect disruptive model for a downturn.
LinkedIn could be a great SaaS success story by mixing and integrating the right features to become the place where business people live and pay for services.
Add a touch of integration with email, a pinch of basic CRM capabilities. Roll it all up into the biggest business contact graph on the planet. Ask $5 of each user per month, the "Google price." Juice up the returns with some transactional services, making money by connecting people.
If there is one company in the tech space I would own shares in if I could, it would be LinkedIn. As long as it stops trying to appeal to college kids.